Legends of Zork: a New Take on Quendor   Leave a comment

Ok, so, on April Fool’s day I was told that for the past few months now, Activision had been setting up a new online Zork game, and that it was launching that day. And I laughed and laughed and even though I knew it was the setup for an April Fool’s Day joke, I had to follow their link.

Wow, it wasn’t a joke.

Okay, set the mood here: for over ten years now I’ve been looking for Activision to acknowledge their best franchise. And while I wanted a new game, any new game, I was expecting something I could, you know, buy in stores and play without an internet connection (no offense, but the team play for ZGI never seemed to make much sense to me. Then again, I never tried it.)

However, for much of the past ten years, I’ve been a fan of something called Legend of the Green Dragon (I play at the Central server at http://www.lotgd.net if you’re interested.) When I first saw the splash page for this Legends of Zork game, I said to myself “Oh, wow, someone modded Legend of the Green Dragon to be a Zork game.” Then I saw the Activision reminder on the bottom and decided that someone must have made a very *official* version of Legend of the Green Dragon.

Now that I’ve played a bit, I can honestly say that it’s definitely not Legend of the Green Dragon. You go into areas and fight things, collecting experience and money (Zorkmids, naturally) but that’s about where the similarities end.

A few friends of mine have expressed disappointment in the game, and I can understand that. The fighting of monsters is automatic: if you find something, you fight to the end, regardless of who the winner is. I can certainly understand the frustration there. I, however, enjoy the change. One of my major qualms with Legend of the Green Dragon is that there isn’t often a way to streamline the “look for something to kill” process unless you go to other servers (and when I *do* go to other servers, I’m almost overwhelmed by how much there is. It starts to feel like homework rather than a game.)

So the fighting style is good, in my opinion, but not necessarily gonna be for everyone.

And another word on fighting: I made a mistake by not considering weapon/armor quality and skill points. I’m not a huge RPG player, so using these things always seems a bit foreign to how I approach scenarios. But I’ve just hit level 7, and I’m realizing that hey, the monsters are getting tougher as well. Save up for big guns when you play this folks (and sometimes those guns are literal), and be prepared to use them.

In terms of gameplay, do not expect a text adventure. It isn’t a text adventure, no matter what it looks like (or you could argue that it’s a text adventure in the same way that LotGD is a text adventure: read everything, but point and click.) If you have to compare it to a previous Zork game, Beyond Zork is the way to go: you encounter a lot of monsters (some of which are brand new, but most of which are from the previous games), and you find treasure which you can sell for Zorkmids.

Now, admittedly: I might’ve preferred an actual MMORPG. A Zork based MMORPG would’ve been a lot of fun, but honestly? It wouldn’t survive against WoW. I say this as someone who’s never played WoW and never plans on it: Zork’s unique style of adventure, horror, and comedy would either seem like a ripoff of WoW, or something unnecessary to your diehard MMORPG fan. While I’d love (and would certainly pay for) an MMORPG set in the Zork universe, I don’t quite think that the time is right.

Back to this game, though: stylistically, the game gets a lot of stuff right on the nose. The art style is good (though not necessarily Zorkish) but the writing style gets a lot of the Zorkian sounds right. Lots of bars, fobs, wits, and dos in the names.

Anyway, after my second day playing it (my home computer can’t handle it, I’m afraid), I have to say that I love it. I hope this game sticks around, and I’ll love to see it improve over time (maybe they’ll make the autofight be optional.)

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